WASHINGTON, March 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Assembly on School-Based Health Care, a nonprofit organization that aims to advance and advocate for school-based health centers, announced today that it has received a $600,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente. Funding from the Oakland-based nonprofit health organization will be used to increase access to oral health care for approximately 3,000 children and adolescents with demonstrated need. NASBHC will use a competitive grant process to distribute a majority of the funding directly to the SBHC field to expand the scope of practice of existing staff. The geographic reach of the project will be national with a focus on Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington, Georgia, Ohio, Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.
"One of the most pressing, unmet health needs of children and adolescents that SBHCs seek to address is oral health," said Linda Juszczak, executive director of NASBHC. "Poor oral health has been shown to impact students' academic performance, often contributing to poor attendance, concentration problems, and low self image. With specialized training and support, our nation's SBHCs are well-positioned to provide their young patients with access to the oral health care they need to stay healthy and in school, and NASBHC's partnership with Kaiser Permanente will help make this happen."
Funding for the $600,000 grant is a result of Kaiser Permanente's employee wellness program, Healthy Workforce, through which the organization contributed $50 for each employee who took an online health risk assessment. Almost 23,000 Kaiser Permanente employees voluntarily participated in the program in its first year, which raised $1.2 million overall. The funding will be divided between NASBHC and Bridgeport, Conn.-based Wholesome Wave.
"Kaiser Permanente shares common values with the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care, including a commitment to assure access to high-quality health care, unencumbered by income, language, culture or socioeconomic background," said Winston Wong, M.D., medical director, Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit. "We are delighted to partner with the NASBHC to address the epidemic of dental disease that disproportionately affects children who are poor and minority."
More than 1,900 SBHCs across the country provide access to almost 2 million students for a range of primary, mental, and oral health care services. These services are provided regardless of students' ability to pay, and are held in a location that meets children and adolescents where they are: at school. Students in schools with SBHCs are predominantly members of minority and ethnic populations who have historically experienced under-insurance, lack of insurance, or other health care access disparities.
SBHC staff is trained to provide primary care and often mental health, but their greatest need is for increased capacity to provide oral health care. A little more than half (57 percent) of SBHCs conduct oral health screenings on site or by referral and less than a quarter (20 percent) provide fluoride varnish on site or by referral. Even fewer (10 percent) provide general dental care. NASBHC and Kaiser Permanente believe that training and support of existing SBHC staff will help increase the number of patients who receive critical access to oral health care.
During the project, NASBHC and its partners will train existing SBHC staff – primary care providers and medical support staff – to expand their scope of practice to include oral health risk assessment. The training that SBHCs receive will include assessment and intervention of dietary habits. The project will assist SBHC staff in building a referral network so that their patients, who are often uninsured or lack access to quality dental care, will receive the treatment they need to have healthy mouths, healthy teeth, improved nutrition, and healthy lives.
In addition, the project will facilitate relationship building between SBHC state associations and child oral health policy advocates in their states, leading to increased knowledge, collaboration, and partnerships around service delivery and policy change.
About the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care
The National Assembly on School-Based Health Care (NASBHC) was founded in 1995 and is the national voice for SBHCs. Built from the grassroots up by individuals from state and federal government agencies, national and regional foundations, child health and education organizations and SBHCs, we are a true reflection of the field we support. We advocate for national policies, programs, and funding to expand and strengthen school-based health centers, while also supporting the movement with training and technical assistance. For more information, go to: www.nasbhc.org.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America's leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 8.7 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: www.kp.org/newscenter.
SOURCE National Assembly on School-Based Health Care